Make a culinary journey down Otago’s abundant East Coast, where you’ll discover a range of local flavours from the simple to the very sophisticated.
Dunedin is the main urban centre of the Otago region, which is well known for exceptional produce and gourmet products. This pretty ocean-side city is becoming something of a foodie mecca in the south, with an ever-increasing range of fantastic eateries that focus on locally-sourced and seasonally fresh dishes.
The city centre provides the main stage for a diverse selection of restaurants and cheerful cheap eats, but some real gems can also be found in the beachside and hilltop suburbs of St Clair, Roslyn and Maori Hill. There is no shortage of small-scale roasteries and quirky spots to catch a caffeine fix, all washed down with a signature side order of cheese rolls or cinnamon scrolls.
Craft breweries are on the rise, and the classic and long-standing Speights Brewery has now been joined by Emerson’s, New New New and Steamer Basin, each with their own unique range. Not to be outdone, fine wine can also be found amongst the heritage buildings and Urbn Vino has a small and very special winery in the Warehouse Precinct that specialises in Pinot Noir made onsite with Central Otago grapes.
Down at the Dunedin Railway Station every Saturday you’ll find the Otago Farmers Market, one of the best in Australasia, where a dazzling collection of local artisan producers, bakers, baristas and more, peddle their delicious wares.
Seafood is readily available and some of the best cold-water fish are caught just off shore, including Salmon which can be caught in the Otago Harbour. Little Neck Clams are something of a local delicacy, especially plucked fresh from Blueskin Bay at low tide and cooked with a little wine and garlic. Classic Kiwi fish and chips are never hard to find and make the perfect picnic fodder at one of Dunedin’s many beautiful beaches.
For those who fancy a touch of Scottish drama, the haggis ceremony at Larnach Castle is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Drawing on the ancestry of many a local who can trace their line back to the early Scot’s settlers of the city.
The Waitaki Valley is one of New Zealand's newest wine regions, producing Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewurtztraminer. Lying between Otago and Canterbury, the area is known for its cool climate and distinctive fruit flavours.
Most of the Waitaki's vineyards are close to Kurow; the Kurow Winery is well worth a stop, as is the Vintner's Drop.
Dining highlights in the region include Riverstone Kitchen just north of Oamaru, where fresh local produce and meats are transformed into delicious hearty meals in true country cooking style, but with added flair.
The town of Oamaru has a spectacular collection of Victorian buildings, which have been restored to their original glory. Dotted amongst these await a number of excellent cafes and restaurants.
For cheese connoisseurs, a tasting session at the Whitestone cheese factory is compulsory - be sure to try the award-winning Windsor Blue.
South of Oamaru is Moeraki, where the main attraction is a beach strewn with giant spherical boulders. The small township is home to a couple of cafes, including Fleurs Place which serves up amazingly fresh seafood.